Under new COVID-19 rules implemented by the New Orleans mayor, Harrah’s and any other casino gambling venues in the city must ask for proof of vaccination or negative test results from gamblers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
A first for the US
Gamblers in New Orleans will have to go through new checks before they are able to return to their favorite casino or racetrack later this month. Mayor LaToya Cantrell has introduced an indoor mandate requiring casino gambling venues to ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result from patrons.
The New Orleans mayor announced the measures in a Twitter post on Thursday this week, with the date of introduction set for August 16:
In her reasoning for the decision, Cantrell pointed to a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the Louisiana city. In addition to casinos and racetracks with gaming offerings, the vaccination and testing requirements also apply to sports stadiums. The mayor affirmed that the city will not limit capacity.
Under the mandate, Caesars Entertainment-owned Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel and Casino will become the first land-based casino in the US to require vaccination proof or a negative test result for entry. The city’s Fair Grounds racetrack, which offers slot machine gambling, and three riverboat casinos must also introduce the measures.
Backing the vaccine
Like officials in many states across the US, Mayor Cantrell has urged New Orleans residents to get their jabs in order to ditch the COVID-19 restrictions completely and return to normality. “Unlike this time last year, we have a tool that we did not have — a vaccine,” she commented. “And this is our only way out of this virus.”
In addition to casinos and racinos, the new mandate will also impact the Caesars Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints. Casino operator Caesars Entertainment partnered with the NFL team in July this year for a rebrand of the stadium. Fans attending the venue must also wear masks under the mayor’s new rules.
Although New Orleans will soon become the only city with a proof of vaccine requirement for casinos, others such as New York and San Francisco already have such a policy for indoor dining and other activities. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, some entertainment venues in Nevada gambling hub Las Vegas could also add the measure by October.
A dip in casino revenue
New Orleans is currently home to three riverboat casinos, Harrah’s casino, and the Fair Grounds racetrack. According to figures released by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board last month, the gambling venues took in revenue of $51.9m in the last reported month in June. That represents a drop of 8% month-on-month.
an increase of 35% from the amount generated in the same month of 2020
Louisiana’s entire land-based casino sector, including 13 riverboats, Harrah’s, and four racinos, accumulated revenue of $221.6m in June. Although less of a drop from May levels, this still represents a dip of 3% month-on-month. That said, the total is 35% more than the amount generated in the same month of 2020.